Bomber Crew was a surprise hit a few years back, putting you in charge of bombing runs, while keeping your aircraft in the sky.
Everyone had a role to play in making sure you stay alive, with one person controlling the aircraft, while another looks after repairs, and someone else is in charge of guns.
It was all about finding people suited to those roles, keeping on top of a frantic, ever-developing situation, and reaping the rewards on the mission complete screen.
So the only natural place to go from flying through the skies is … well … flying through the galaxy. Enter Space Crew.
This is exactly as you’d expect it to be – a spiritual successor in every way to Bomber Crew – but in space.
And that’s both to the game’s credit and detriment, as it follows the very same concepts of Bomber Crew a little too closely at times while also offering a breath of fresh air.
Yes, you’re still pigeonholing crew members into specific roles – like engineering, the med-bay, communications, and, of course, the Captain’s Chair, but you’re also moving at warp speed between areas, and fighting back against an alien threat.
Runner Duck have understood what worked well in Bomber Crew, but have done more than just give it a futuristic lick of paint. The multi-tiered missions have a form of arching narrative, and completing them gives you the option to purchase new technology for your spacecraft. But you’ve also got all new manner of malfunctions to consider. You’re no longer in charge of a WW2 plane – now it’s all about Warp Speed Drives and Communications terminals. And in some cases, directives must come from the Captain as only they have the authority to make those decisions.
It’s pretty clear how Curve and Runner Duck have positioned this game with your Jean Luc Picard look alike on the key art and it’s more FTL looking interface at the heart of the game. The comparisons to the classic strategy game were always there, so I guess the developers are being a bit more open about them this time around.
But it’s still the same stressful, frantic fun you’ll remember from before. Your mind has to be on three or four different things at once, and you’ll need to stay several steps ahead in order to complete your missions. It can be exhausting, truth be told, but pretty satisfying once you’re on the other side of it. That feeling of fulfillment certainly hasn’t gone away and may even be stronger than ever.
There’s risk attached as well, with the possibility of crew members dying in a way that will bring about horrifying flashbacks to your last XCOM playthrough. That can also be a tough nut to swallow if it’s a crew member who’s been with you since your maiden voyage and is absolutely bursting with all kinds of skills.
Perhaps more than ever, you’ll find yourself super protective of your crew, hoping they’ll see each mission through. But it’s that sense of attachment which can also be your undoing, because it can easily distract you from the overall mission at hand. Balance is going to be key to you seizing the day.
This can also be especially difficult because once your crew member has mastered their abilities, they can actually take on duties another officer would specialise in, making them even more invaluable to your ship and crew. Nail-biting stuff.
And that’s going to happen to you more than once, most probably, because each specialty has a very similar look and feel to it, meaning most engineers – for example – will probably come out acting much the same way when maxed out.
It’s kind of ironic, then, that a game about exploring the wider galaxy, in vast open space, often feels linear and like you’re bouncing off boxed off areas. Not helped by the fact that missions are also quite enclosed so that you’ll rarely find yourself moving outside the lines.
As fun as it is blasting at aliens, healing crewmates, and charting the final frontier, you’ll find the game soon feels a bit samey, rarely throwing too many surprises at you once the first few missions are out of the way.
I liked Space Crew, more than I did Bomber Crew for sure, but I couldn’t help feeling like I wanted it to try some new things with the formula, and be a little bit more open and liberated with its mission structure.
There’s plenty of fun to be had here, though – as well as stress and sadness – so if you’re looking for a different kind of outer space adventure from your Star Wars: Squadrons and Hardspace: Shipbreakers, you’ve come to the right place. Everything you loved about Bomber Crew is still here, and a little bit more besides.
+ It’s more Bomber Crew but set in outer space
+ Hierachy system onboard really keeps you on your toes
+ Space battles can be a blast
+ Some fantastic customization possibilities
– Can feel a bit linear and samey after a while
Space Crew is now available on PC, PS4, Switch, and XO
Code kindly provided by Curve Digital
Tested on PC